Radical Queer Epistemic Network: Kurdish Diaspora, Futurity, and Sexual Politics


  • Hakan Sandal University of Cambridge




Globalization, vulnerable peoples, Ubuntu, post-truth politics, border management


This article examines the ways in which London's queer Kurdish activists imagine Kurdistan(s) and their relation to politics surrounding Kurdish and queer struggles in the United Kingdom. In doing so, the article draws attention to a “radical queer epistemic network” that establishes a transnational link among/across different borders of queer communities in the United Kingdom, such as race and class; “homeland” and “hostland”; present and future. Although there are works focusing on the Kurdish diaspora in Europe and the United Kingdom, there is a gap in the literature when it comes to queer voices and epistemologies. How do Kurdish queer subjects negotiate ethnic, gender and sexual identities whilst imagining and (re)constructing the homeland, hostland, and politics? How do queer Kurds assert their existence and make alliances in the United Kingdom’s political sphere? Can these experiences subvert the orientalist gaze directed towards queer Middle Easterners while critiquing the existing oppressive structures that affect them? This article sheds light not only on the experiences of a segment of the queer Middle East diaspora community in London but also on the mobilisation of the diasporic sexual impulsions within the political sphere through an auto-ethnographic account from London Pride 2017, contributing to the deconstruction of a presumed monolithic group, namely the Kurdish diaspora. 

Author Biography

Hakan Sandal, University of Cambridge

PhD Candidate, Centre for Gender Studies - Political and International Studies, University of Cambridge.


Anzaldúa, G. (2012). Borderlands: The new mestiza = La Frontera, fourth edition, San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.

Axel, B. K. (2002). “The diasporic imaginary”. Public Culture 14, no. 2 (May): 411–428.

Baser, B. (2011). “Kurdish Diaspora Political Activism in Europe with a

Particular Focus on Great Britain”, Berghof Peace Support and Centre for Just Peace and Democracy.

Benhabib, S. (1992). Situating the Self – Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Brubaker, R. (2002). “Ethnicity Without Groups.” Archives Européennes de Sociologie XLIII 2: 163–189.

Crawford, N.C. (2016). “Paris Black Pride 2016” in Bakshi et al. Decolonizing Sexualities, Oxford: Counterpress, xix-xxii.

Cruz-Malavé, A. and Manalansan, M.F. (2002). Queer globalizations: citizenship and the afterlife of colonialism, New York; London: New York University Press.

Demir, I., (2012). “Battling with Memleket in London: The Kurdish Diaspora's Engagement with Turkey”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38:5, 815-831, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2012.667996.

Duggan, M. (2008). “Theorising homophobic hate crime in Northern Ireland”, Papers from the British Criminology Conference, Vol 8, 33-49.

Eliassi, B. (2016). “Statelessness in a world of nation-states: the cases of Kurdish diasporas in Sweden and the UK”, Journal Of Ethnic And Migration Studies, 2016 VOL. 42, NO. 9, 1403–1419, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2016.1162091.

Eng, D.L. (1997). “Out Here and Over There: Queerness and Diaspora in Asian American Studies.” Social Text, No. 52/53, Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender (Autumn - Winter, 1997), pp. 31-52.

Erel, U. (2013). “Kurdish migrant mothers in London enacting citizenship, Citizenship Studies”, 17:8, 970-984, DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2013.851146.

Fraser, N. (2000). “Rethinking Recognition”, New Left Review, 3 May/Jun 2000.

Glick Schiller N. et al. (2006). “Beyond the ethnic lens: Locality, globality, and born-again incorporation”, American Ethnologist, November 2006. DOI:10.1525/ae.2006.33.4.612.

Griffiths, D. (2002). Somali and Kurdish Refugees in London: New Identities in the Diaspora, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Gopinath, G. (2005). Impossible Desires – Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures, Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Haritaworn, J. (2015). Queer lovers and hateful others: Regenerating violent times and places (Decolonial studies, postcolonial horizons), London: Pluto Press.

Jongerden, J. (2017). Gender equality and radical democracy: Contractions and conflicts in relation to the “new paradigm” within the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Anatoli 233–256. https://doi.org/10.4000/anatoli.618

Kavak, S. (2017). “Transnational Community Politics in the Diaspora: Agenda and Agency Building Experiences of the Kurds from Turkey in the UK,” unpublished PhD thesis, Keele University.

Khomami, N and agencies, “Stonewall withdraws from Pride in London over 'lack of diversity'”, The Guardian, 23 February 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/23/stonewall-withdraws-from-pride-in-london-diversity-uk-black-pride.

Leigh, D. (2017). “Queer Feminist International Relations: Uneasy Alliances, Productive Tensions”, Alternatif politika, Volume 9, Issue 3, October 2017, 343-360.

Luibhéid, E. (2008). “Queer/Migration an unruly Body of Scholarship”, GLQ 14:2–3, Duke University Press, DOI 10.1215/10642684-2007-029.

McDowall, D. (1997). A modern history of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris.

Mohanty, C. (2003). Feminism Without Borders – Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Mojab, S. and Gorman, R. (2007). “Dispersed Nationalism: War, Diaspora and Kurdish Women’s Organizing”, Journal Of Middle East Women’s Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1.

O'Shea, Maria T. (2004). Trapped between the map and reality: Geography and perceptions of Kurdistan (Middle East Studies), New York; London: Routledge.

Patton, C. and Sánchez-Eppler, B. (2000). Queer Diasporas, Durham, N.C.; London: Duke University Press.

Puar, Jabir K, 2008. “The Turban Is Not A Hat’: Queer Diaspora And Practices Of Profiling”, Sikh Formations, 4:1, 47-91, DOI: 10.1080/17448720802075439.

Scalbert-Yücel, C. and Le Ray, M. (2006) “Knowledge, ideology and power - deconstructing Kurdish Studies”, European Journal of Turkish Studies, 5.

Seidman, S. (1994). “Symposium: Queer Theory/Sociology: A Dialogue”, Sociological Theory, 12(2), pp.166–248.

Sheffer, G. (2009). Diaspora Politics: At Home Abroad. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sirkeci, I. et al. (2016). Little Turkey in Great Britain. London: Transnational Press London.

Smith, D. E. (2004). “Women’s Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology” in Sandra Harding (ed.), The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual And Political Controversies, New York; London: Routledge.

Tas, L. (2014). Legal Pluralism in action: Dispute resolution and the Kurdish Peace committee. Ashgate: Farnham.

“Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot Communities in London,” Greater London Authority, February 2009.

Wahlbeck, Ö. (1999) Kurdish Diasporas: A Comparative Study of Kurdish Refugee Communities, London: Macmillan.

Warner, M., (1991). “Introduction: Fear of a Queer Planet”, Social Text, No. 29 (1991), Duke University Press, pg: 3-17, pp 3-17.

Wesling, M. (2008). “why queer diaspora?” Feminist Review, 90(1), 30-47.

Yegen, M. (2009). “‘Prospective-Turks’ or ‘Pseudo-Citizens:’ Kurds in Turkey”, Middle East Journal, Vol. 63, No. 4 (Autumn, 2009), pp. 597-615.



How to Cite

Sandal, H. (2020). Radical Queer Epistemic Network: Kurdish Diaspora, Futurity, and Sexual Politics. Migration Letters, 17(1), 81-90. https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v17i1.750